Most people remember the FEMA fiasco that followed Hurricane Katrina. Who could forget Bush’s words to FEMA director Michael Brown as thousands suffered in the Superdome or Convention Center, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” Heck, I even had a t-shirt made with that quote on it.
One can go back and read the literature and learn that the critics don’t think much was learned from Katrina. One can also learn that a lesson that was learned was to make sure the mistakes are not repeated if the victims are white and live in red states.
According to CBS the statistics say that following Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida FEMA’s response was “faster and more generous.” Such response was not nearly as good in regards to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Researchers report that “The variation in the responses was not commensurate with storm severity and need after landfall in the case of Puerto Rico compared with Texas and Florida,” the researchers wrote. Specifically, survivors in Texas and Florida received about $100 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds over a nine-day period; Maria survivors received about $6 million in that time.”
The population of Puerto Rico was browner, poorer, and more removed from the public’s vision. While Bush viewed New Orleans from the comfort of Air Force One, Trump used the same luxury plane to fly into San Juan, toss out a few rolls of paper towels, and get out of Dodge before sundown.
When California burnt to the ground this fall Trump finally made an appearance and instead of sympathy and understanding, he shook a few hands and condemned the state for not raking its forests. Since then he has threatened to cut off any further federal aid for fire prevention and fighting in the Golden State. It’s not that the victims of the Paradise fire weren’t white enough, it’s that they weren’t conservative enough. They live in Jerry Brown’s liberal and increasingly bluer state.
Given the longevity and negative effects of Trump’s bully tantrum shutdown, the next disaster stands to be much worse. Monies used to pay first responders, train first responders, and equip first responders, simply doesn’t exist. Come hell and high water don’t look for the federal government to come to the rescue. Even after the government hangs out the Open for Business sign, it will be a long time before America recovers from the effects of this childish tissy fit.